ReSharper DevGuide

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Navigate Code

ReSharper provides two types of navigation:

The navigation task can be divided into two steps:

Before you’ll take a look at SDK examples on how to perform navigation, we strongly recommend that you acquaint with ReSharper’s project model and PSI fundamentals below in this section. Also it’s worth to take a look at the example in Get a Tree Node by Full CLR Name (this code actively operates with project model and PSI entities).

Project Model Basics

Project model is the API that allows working with entities that constitute a solution in Visual Studio: a solution itself, projects, folders, and files.

The main project model elements are:

  • ISolution: solution representation created when a solution is loaded in Visual Studio. This is the root element of the project model that normally corresponds to the solution node in Visual Studio’s Solution Explorer. ISolution provides many useful interface for working with other elements of the project model and even go down to PSI (e.g., see ISolution.GetPsiServices()).
  • IProject: project and solution folder representation that provides interfaces for getting project files, project folders, and some specific staff, like, e.g., module-to-project references. IProject also has methods that allow you to go down to the PSI level, e.g., GetPsiModules() or GetPsiSourceFileInProject(). There are several kinds of projects (IProject.Kind property): solution folder, website, regular project, misc files project.
  • IProjectFolder: project folder representation.
  • IProjectFile: representation of a file in a project. Provides various interfaces for working with other dependent project model elements, .e.g., GetDependentFiles() to get dependent project files.

Other important elements:

  • IPsiModule: a compilation unit. Normally, for a C# class library, IPsiModule correponds to a compiled .dll file (so, it’s a rough equivalent of IProject).
  • IPsiSourceFile: an abstraction that represents a file with source code that must be compiled, i.e, included in a compilation unit (IPsiModule). In a simple case, it’s an equivalent of IProjectFile. IPsiSourceFile allows you to get IFile that represents the PSI syntax tree of the file. So, it’s somewhat your bridge down to the PSI level.

Why does ReSharper need these two entities if it already has IProject and IProjectFile? The problem is that one single project may be compiled into multiple modules as well as single IProjectFile may be represented with multiple source files. For better understanding consider the example below. Say, we have a simple web project called WebApp:


Here the single project is compiled into three modules. Each .cs file has two IPsiSourceFile(s) associated with it.

Therefore, if you are 100% sure that your project file is represented with just one source file, you can obtain an instance of IPsiSourceFile by calling the IProjectFile.ToSourceFile() method. It will return FirstOrDefault() element from the PSI source files collection. Otherwise, get all IPsiSourceFile(s) by calling ToSourceFiles().

To obtain modules from IProject, use the IProject.GetAllModules() method.

PSI Basics

PSI (program structure interface) is the API for working with code syntax tree (a tree representation of the source code). The main PSI elements are:

  • IFile: an abstraction used to build the PSI syntax tree from IPsiSourceFile. One source file may contain many IFile(s): one primary, many secondaries (build upon primary using the same PSI nodes), and injected PSIs (e.g., when there is a language injection, like a C# file containing a variable with JS code). To obtain IFile from a source file, use the IPsiSourceFile.GetPsiFile() method.
  • ITreeNode: the most basic element of the syntax tree. Any element of the tree is a tree node (implements the ITreeNode interface). E.g., even a closing semicolon or a space between two words are tree nodes.
  • IReference: abstraction that attaches semantic model to tree nodes. E.g., the expression i = 1 has a reference for i (a tree node that implements IReferenceExpression) which resolves to IDeclaredElement (see below), i.e., some property, field, or a local variable. You can use this reference in refactorings or context actions, to navigate to the referenced code element, and so on. Some nodes also have specific named references (depending on the node type). The ITreeNode interface provides the GetAllReferences method that returns all node references.
  • IDeclaredElement: element of the semantic model. It is a meaningful code element that can be referenced by other code elements: a class declaration, a property, etc. Note that there’s a difference between IDeclaration and IDeclaredElement. IDeclaredElement is an entity you can refer to, while IDeclaration is just a place in code where the declaration happens. For example, you have a partial class Foo that is implemented in two different parts:

    public partial class Foo { /* ... */ } public partial class Foo { /* ... */ }

    Both top tree nodes of these declarations implement IDeclaration -> IClassDeclaration. But there’s only one IDeclaredElement the declarations refer to via the DeclaredElement property - the class Foo declared in the global namespace.

  • Other PSI types: there are a lot of specific helper types for particular elements of the syntax tree. E.g., IVariableDeclaration and ILocalVariableDeclaration (for variable declarations), IExpressionStatement (for representing statements), and many more. Moreover, there are a lot of types that are specific to a particular language and, therefore, provide specific methods relevant only in the context of this language. E.g., ICSharpDeclaration or IJavaScriptDynamicProperty.

For better understanding, consider the example:


Note that even though this is not shown on the picture, the equals sign, semicolons, and even whitespaces are also special tree nodes of the syntax tree.

Last modified: 12 July 2017